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Why I believe a photography walk can support our mental health

Updated: Jun 23, 2021

Do you start every January with great intentions? Do you think, this is going to be the year I'll lose those excess pounds, or, this year I'll definitely take more exercise? Do you make a plan that this will be the year you'll start that project you have been putting off, or that this is the year you'll make those long-planned life changes? Sound familiar?

We all begin to feel the excesses of Christmas after a few days and the early days of January are often a time when we begin to take stock, vow to get a bit healthier, make some changes to our lifestyle. Most of us would like to do something to get back the feeling that there's more to life than lounging around eating and watching endless TV. For me, that involves renewing my commitment to a daily walk, getting out in the fresh air, spending some time in nature. A coastal or lake shore walk, a meander through the woods or the countryside, a mountain hike or even just a stroll around our local neigbourhood can re-charge the batteries and help us feel revived and ready to resume a more healthy lifestyle as a new year beckons. So don those walking boots, find that warm jacket and head for the outdoors. And I'll make one addition to that suggestion - take a camera with you.

Why a camera?

I have several reasons for recommending a photography walk, all based on my own recent experience.

Provides motivation. Like a lot of people I find that it takes great effort to get out and walk during the colder winter months so it's good to go out with a purpose in mind, rather than just set out aimlessly. I don't have to always have a camera with me, it can just be my phone, but if I go out with the intention of taking some photographs it gives me a greater incentive to go out in the first place. Sometimes I go out early, to capture the stillness of morning, sometimes I take an evening walk as I love to see the winter sky change colour dramatically as night closes in. I often go out after rain as I can capture raindrops hanging from branches or glistening on leaves, or find beautiful reflections in puddles. If I have a specific purpose for my photographs it gives me even greater motivation. I might want to focus on taking photographs of small things that are easy to miss on a walk, or choose a particular colour to focus on. Often I go out with the intention of just allowing myself to be drawn to a subject, even something that would not ordinarily be considered a photography subject. It gives me great joy to find beauty in the ordinary and capture this on camera.

I really enjoy seeing all the different winter skies

Encourages me to explore new places. It is easy to become bored with taking the same walking route every day but difficult to change without some degree of incentive. And without incentive we are less likely to persevere. A photography walk provides such an incentive. In the interests of taking more interesting photographs I try to vary my locations, by taking different routes through my local park, doing river walks from various starting points or following some mountain trails. There is always something new to photograph, a different perspective to take on a familiar scene , or indeed something new that I hadn't noticed before.

A sudden break in the track in Knocksink Woods revealed this view

Encourages me to see familiar places in a new way. By going out on a walk with a camera at hand and photographs in mind I can begin to see familiar places in a new way. I have become much more observant of my surroundings since I am always on the lookout for potential photo opportunities. I don't take photographs of everything I see, but I do see more.

Winter is not a season, it's a celebration ~Anamika Mishra

Updated January 2021


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